If you were just browsing the box score, you might come away extremely impressed with the Kansas City Chiefs’ 26-10 victory over the New England Patriots in Week 4. The Chiefs beat one of the greatest coaches of all-time in Patriots head coach Bill Belichick by 16, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes had a 113.6 passer rating with no interceptions.
If that’s the only information you had from the game, you’d probably be confused why Mahomes sounded so unexcited during his post-game press conference. The former league MVP and Super Bowl MVP has high expectations for himself, and he doesn’t believe he met them on Monday night.
“I feel like especially me,” Mahomes began while talking to reporters. “I didn’t execute at a high enough level when you’re playing against a defense like that if you want to go out there and have success.”
The mishaps started early. The Chiefs were able to drive down the field on the first drive, but an errant Mahomes throw almost halted the possession before it really even started.
Mahomes was NOT happy with his play last night. You could hear it in his voice during his post game presser, and he obviously expressed it— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) October 6, 2020
I'm sure this is one throw on his mind. Box score says he's targeting Sammy but I think he overthrows a tightly-covered Kelce pic.twitter.com/93I04PVorD
On their third offensive play of the game, Mahomes appears to target a tightly-covered Kelce — but overthrows him and puts the ball right into safety Devin McCourty’s hands. McCourty doesn’t haul in the interception, and the Chiefs were able to continue the drive and get down to the 3-yard line.
After two unsuccessful tries at scoring, Mahomes dropped back and put some touch on a pass towards wide receiver Sammy Watkins in the corner of the end zone — but the throw was a little too out in front and high. Kansas City would settle for three points.
While Kelce may not have been running free on the nearly-intercepted pass, Watkins had a step on his man. Mahomes acknowledged the throws he missed.
“When guys were open, it seemed like I wasn’t finding them,” Mahomes recalled. “I could see it on the tablet when we would go to the sideline. We were calling plays that were getting guys open, I just got to be able to be to find them and get it to those guys so they can make plays happen.”
On the offense’s second drive, the Chiefs went three-and-out after a missed deep shot to wide receiver Tyreek Hill on third down. He got a hand on it, but the ball was a little too out in front for Hill, who did have a slight step on his defender.
The Chiefs took advantage of their third shot with the ball by marching 75 yards down the field — but had to settle for a field goal after stalling just outside of the red zone. At this point in the second quarter, the offense had 150 total yards and just six points to show for it. Mahomes recognized that failure.
“Early in the game we were moving the ball the way we wanted to move it,” Mahomes pointed out. “We were doing stuff the right way and we couldn’t figure out ways to get in the endzone. Then they obviously got some stops there in the middle, but I’m proud of how the guys fought at the end of the game. That game easily could’ve went the other direction, they had a lot of the momentum, the defense made some stops and we were able to score whenever it counted.”
The defense did their best to help out their offense. They forced four turnovers — including one interception returned for a touchdown by safety Tyrann Mathieu — and held the Patriots to three points until the early minutes of the fourth quarter. The offense was only able to score on one of the three possessions gifted to them by their defense.
It may not be pretty, but Mahomes understands it won’t always be.
“When you’re in dog fights with teams like this that are known to win games like this,” Mahomes started. “To be able to find ways, offense, defense and special teams and today our defense stepped up, made a lot of big-time plays. Whenever you’re trying to go throughout a season and win as many football games as possible to set you up for the playoffs, you’re going to have to win games like this.”
The second half was a different story for Mahomes and his unit. They were able to score two touchdowns to help put the game out of reach for New England’s offense. In other words, they adjusted from the first half and made the important plays when they were most needed.
“If you kind of hold us down, we can go out there and make plays when they count,” Mahomes emphasized. “That’s big, I mean when you’re in games like that, and you’re going against teams that are really good, when your number’s called, you got to be able to make a play and I thought guys made plays at the end of the game to give us enough points so that we could go out there and get the win.”
Mahomes’ finished with an admirable stat line: He completed 66% of his passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns while only being sacked once. Yet, the star quarterback repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with his individual play.
He was asked if the change in schedule due to COVID-19 complications affected his game preparation at all.
“Obviously, I didn’t do enough because we didn’t execute to a high enough level,” Mahomes responded. “I wasn’t able to find the guys and I didn’t play very good football. I thought I did whatever I could to try and stay in tune with the game and hopefully if this presents itself again, which hopefully it doesn’t, I’ll be able to do better.”
There’s nothing to worry about: Mahomes faced a defense coached by one of the greatest football minds in league history and wasn’t great. Instead of being content with a win and the good plays he did have, Mahomes gave himself an edge by embracing his subpar play (to his standards).
You can bet that will motivate him to come out and play better next week — which isn’t good news for the Las Vegas Raiders.